I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Terraforming Mars book In the Shadow of Deimos by Jane Killick, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let this cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What Is Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is a strategy board game designed by Jacob Fryxelius, in which you work to raise the temperature of Mars and make it habitable for human life

Players take on the role of a corporation that work together to terraform Mars, and advance human infrastructure throughout the Sol system.

The game is incredibly successful and has five expansions, a Big Box, and a spin off game.

It also has a digital version available on Windows, iOS, MacOS, iPadOS & Android.

The Story

Set in the year 2316 not long after the formation of the Terraforming Committee, a rogue asteroid crashes into a research centre and kills its sole occupant, which kicks off an investigation, an official one by Julie, the head of the UNs terraforming team, and an unofficial one by Lucas, a recent immigrant to Mars who witnessed the disaster.

As they start to dig into the accident, they quickly learn that things on Mars aren’t quite right and the corporations are keen to cover things up, to prevent damage to their profits.

At the heart of this story its a good old fashioned murder mystery, and that’s its strength, it takes a genre of book which works and gives it the sci-fi twist.

The book is one which gives the reader a broader scope than the characters, who themselves are approaching the investigation from very different sides, and you figure out things before them, and see how they reach the same conclusion as you as more information is revealed to them.

There is a healthy number of side characters as well, all of whom are responsibly well rounded and that makes the setting feel ever more real.


I really enjoyed this book, the story itself was competent and entertaining, but what elevated it for me was the realistic science. All too often books in sci-fi assume we will have invented fantastical machines to work miracles and wonders, but this book is more grounded and whilst things have advanced, its not unrealistic.

Things like characters returning to earth needing time in physio to readjust to the heavier gravity, just little things like that which really stand out as showing how much attention to detail there is.

My favourite scene was one in the mess hall where Lucas and some friends were playing football, and the way the author has realistically described how different a ball would behave in a lower gravity environment, plus it showed how even on the frontier, people find a way to goof off.

There are scenes that make you think, and some high paced adrenaline fuelled parts which get your heart racing, and both in a nice balance. In particular the pacing is good, it never feels too slow or too fast, just right as it builds up to the conclusion.

This is a very strong book, Mars has been the subject to many many books written about it, and for me this felt just as good as Kim Stanley Robinsons Mars trilogy, and frankly is Hugo material.

I solidly recommended this book and give it 5 stars out of 5.

You can buy the ebook now, and the paperback is published on the 11th Novermber.